Unsettling ‘Boundaries’ Photographs Depict The Sexual Intrusions That Women Face

A controversial new series of images called Boundaries by photographer Allaire Bartel dares to literally depict the sexual advances from men that many women face every day. Boundaries shows women doing normal, everyday activities like cooking breakfast or doing yoga, but with the hands of a man somehow invading their personal space or touching private parts of their body. The imagery is meant to symbolize the way many women constantly have to put up with the abuse and sexual invasions of men.

Courtesy of Allaire Bartel

According to GOOD, Allaire Bartel was inspired to make Boundaries when she attended the Youth Photographers Alliance Mentoring Program, whose theme of “boundaries” gave her the idea to illuminate the injustice of men who believe they are entitled to the attention of women. The Boundaries project is not meant to illustrate men as evil or perverted, but to visualize the male oppression that females have to cope with constantly.

“I was particularly determined to express the idea that oppression of women does not just occur in extreme isolated incidents (violent rape and physical abuse) but can also be felt in lesser forms during the day to day,” Bartel explains on her website. “The concept of male entitlement is represented by male arms and hands performing a variety of actions that are overwhelming intrusive on her body and her life. In each situation she maintains a blank expression, a visual choice that demonstrates how conditioned we as women have become to accept this atmosphere as excusable and even normal.”

Courtesy of Allaire Bartel

According to Mic, Bartel wanted to capture the various aggressive advances men make on women in a variety of everyday settings, including at home, in public, and at the workplace. These predatory male behaviors can range from domestic abuse to catcalling to sexual harassment.

Allaire Bartel spoke to Mic about how the Boundaries project is meant to raise awareness about these violations, discourage men from engaging in them and encourage others to take them seriously.

“The reason that there isn’t much personality attached to the male counterpart of the photos is that we… wanted the focus to be on the action and not the person performing the action. The point isn’t ‘Men are bad people,’ it’s, ‘These intrusions are harmful.’ That’s really the perfect male takeaway from this in my opinion. We don’t want people to feel sorry for us. We just hope it’ll make them stop and think.”

[Images courtesy of Allaire Bartel. Visit her website for the full set.]